Refs wishes to of­fi­ci­ate in AJHL whis­tled down

Hockey Al­berta de­nies Gre­gory not given op­por­tu­nity to of­fi­ci­ate based on gen­der

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Cas­san­dra Gre­gory’s tal­ent as a hockey lines­man was rec­og­nized when she was as­signed to work the men’s fi­nal at a pres­ti­gious an­nual mid­get triple-a tour­na­ment in Cal­gary on Jan. 1.

The 23-year-old from Ed­mon­ton also was nom­i­nated by her re­gion’s ref­er­ees com­mit­tee to work lines in the Al­berta Ju­nior Hockey League this sea­son.

She was asked in Au­gust if she was avail­able for ex­hi­bi­tion games, which would have made her the first fe­male of­fi­cial in the AJHL.

“Every­body was ec­static be­cause we’ve fi­nally bro­ken the fe­male bar­rier in the Al­berta Ju­nior Hockey League,” said for­mer NHL lines­man Mike Cvik, who now vol­un­teers as an of­fi­cials su­per­vi­sor in the prov­ince.

“Saskatchewan has al­ready done it, B.C. has done it, Man­i­toba has done it.”

But Gre­gory was in­formed she would not work those AJHL ex­hi­bi­tion games.

She said she was told by Hockey Al­berta ref­eree-inchief Craig De­coursey “this was all hap­pen­ing be­cause I’m a fe­male. And those were his ex­act words. They didn’t even try and hide it.”

“I hon­estly lost sleep over it for the first week and a half,” Gre­gory said. “I would sleep maybe two hours a night and wake up ab­so­lutely upset. I do have as­pi­ra­tions to work at the high­est level pos­si­ble.”

De­coursey de­nied gen­der was the rea­son he gave to Gre­gory for the re­jec­tion of her nom­i­na­tion.

“She ex­pressed that to me. I tried to ex­plain I didn’t be­lieve that was the case,” De­coursey said. “I feel like she went away not be­liev­ing what I had to say.

“It has ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with gen­der what­so­ever.”

But a ref­er­ees com­mit­tee mem­ber who spoke on the con­di­tion he not be iden­ti­fied said “the re­sis­tance is com­ing be­cause she’s a fe­male and the ex­tra hoops are be­ing pre­sented be­cause of that.”

The AJHL as­signs ref­er­ees to games, but Hockey Al­berta is re­spon­si­ble for as­sign­ing li­nes­men, ac­cord­ing to AJHL spokesper­son Charla Flett.

“We’ve had fe­male coaches go through our league, we’ve had fe­male play­ers go through the league and I think right now we’re at 11 of 16 team train­ers and ath­letic ther­a­pists are fe­male, so it’s some­thing we’re not shy­ing from at all,” Flett said.

“I un­der­stand where the ques­tion is com­ing from be­cause we don’t have fe­male of­fi­cials right now. It isn’t some­thing the league is op­posed to.”

Nei­ther De­coursey nor Cur­tis Ni­chols, who is both the AJHL’S su­per­vi­sor of of­fi­cials and Hockey Al­berta’s man­ager of of­fi­ci­at­ing, would say why Gre­gory was re­jected or who made that de­ci­sion.

De­coursey, Ni­chols and Ge­orge Mc­corry, the AJHL’S vice-pres­i­dent of of­fi­ci­at­ing, are the ul­ti­mate au­thor­i­ties on which of­fi­cials get into the league.

Hockey Al­berta’s six re­gions nom­i­nate of­fi­cials for the AJHL and as­sign li­nes­men to games when they’ve been ap­proved.

Ni­chols says roughly half a dozen ref­er­ees and 10 lines­man whose names are put for­ward by the zones each year don’t make the cut.

“We’re al­ways look­ing for the best of­fi­cials. It doesn’t mat­ter at all, male or fe­male,” Ni­chols said.


Ref­eree Cas­san­dra Gre­gory works the Mac’s mid­get triple-a tour­na­ment in Cal­gary last month. Gre­gory’s tal­ent as a hockey lines­man was rec­og­nized when she was as­signed to work the men’s fi­nal at the pres­ti­gious an­nual mid­get triple-a tour­na­ment.

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